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HVK Archives: Hands off Parsis!

Hands off Parsis! - Organiser

Posted By Krishnakant Udavant (kkant@bom2.vsnl.net.in)
October 25, 1998

Title: Hands off Parsis!
Author:
Publication: Organiser
Date: October 25, 1998

Introduction: Out demand on the maulvis and the missionaries is
clear: Let us make absolutely clear that Parsis have nothing to
fear from Hindus or the RSS.

The country's so-called secular press is presently full of news
about the alleged atrocities on minorities in Gujarat and there
are consistent reports of communal clashes in Rajkot, Kheda,
Surat, Bardoli, Vansda and elsewhere, following which, the
National Commission for Minorities sent a five-member team to
Gujarat to investigate the incidents and report back.

The report of the Commission has not yet been submitted but its
conclusion is predictable because it was headed by a Christian
and had included two Muslims, a Parsi and a Secretary of the
Commission. In this connection, it is significant to quote here
some excerpts from a long memorandum submitted to the team by
the Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayet (APP), on 8 August 1998, in
Ahmedabad. It is signed by the APP President, Kersi J. Sethna,
and T.P. Commissariat, Trustee-Secretary. It was also read and
approved by F.H. Davar, P.J. Karanjawala and Smt K.A. Daruwala:

"Whereas any offences under the IPC or any other Act ought to be
condemned, the background of the incidents should also be very
carefully and closely examined.

"So far as the inter-community marriages are concerned' ' if the
parties voluntarily agree to marry, in a secular State like
India, nobody can raise any objections.... But the instances in
the recent past show that, though Section 363 of IPC (Re:
Kidnapping from Lawful Guardianship) may not be attracted an the
girl attaining 18 years of age, the process of taking and
enticing her starts much earlier when she is below that age, and
sometimes even much below that age, and as soon as she attains
18, an inter-community marriage takes place, with or without her
conversion to the male's religion.

"So far as the kidnapping of teenagers is concerned, a Section
containing a rebuttable presumption like that in Section 113-A
and Section 113-B of the Evidence Act should be added therein
and the burden should be cast on a person accused of an offence
under Section 363 of IPC and the aggravated offences arising
therefrom.

"The plight of a lady coverting herself to Islam and marrying a
Muslim male becomes much miserable if she wants talaq (divorce)
which is impossible under the Muslim Personal Law unless the
husband himself agrees to it.

"Whether there shall be a Common Civil Code for all in India nor
not?" the question is debatable.

"The majority community has by and large come to believe that
their girls are enticed away and that there is a systematic plan
to entice them, convert them to Islam and then marry them.

"We Parsis/Zoroastrians have good relations with all communities
and castes. But some of our Parsi girls are also enticed away,
converted to Islam and then married under the Mohammedan Law.

"Incidents have happened in the past and are still happening. To
quote one instance from the recent past, a girl named Mani (name
changed to protect her identity- Editor), daughter of the
Khansaheb family, residing at Machlipith, Surat, on attaining 18
years age was brought to Ahmedabad, converted to Islam and
married to a Muslim boy of Surat, who was living in the same
building as her family in Surat. As her grievance was, she did
not know what could be brought against her as circumstances
suggesting the legitimacy of her marriage and circumstances
preceding the same. As the locality is predominantly Muslim, the
family is keen to sell its flat (which it had built) even after
the event happened, leading to the talaq of Mani by her husband.
Of course, before her marriage, she had undergone our sacred
Navjote ceremony.... Mani was very much afraid and sought the
protection of her parents and ultimately she got herself
released.

"The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and
Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises
from Disturbed Areas Act, 1986 came into force after the
communal outburst in Ahmedabad in 1985. However, its provisions
are not strictly followed in letter and spirit. A question as to
how and why the majority community has sold away and/or vacated
their premises, despite the enactment of such a protection Act,
is required to be very closely and carefully examined. Has
anybody or even the Government of Gujarat-cared to examine this
question? Will the National Commission for Minorities be good
enough to collect data in this behalf, raise questions and
answer them after analysing all the facts?

"The sad incident of the burning of the Holy Bible in Rajkot and
all such incidents .must be condemned.

"If the conversion to another religion is voluntary, nothing can
be done even if the sentiments of the person's relatives are
offended. But the thin line of distinction between persuasive
methods and pressure and luring tactics is obliterated more
often than not and the sentiments of the person's relatives are
hurt beyond repproachement..."

"Last year, the Chairman of the Surat Parsi Panchayet, Dr Sam
Bhacca, had publicly reflected the sentiments of fellow
Zoroastrians when he had sounded the alarm that the Parsis
living in villages in south Gujarat (even though their
population may be very thin) are being lured to accept the
Christ. We have used the word lured by way of abundant caution
to see that no harsh words are used Dr Bhacca's public warning
was followed by a press warning from me (Kersi J. Sethna) on
similar lines. Our objection is to the so-called persuasive
methods, which are merely an attempt to see that these poor
Zoroastrian villagers convert themselves and accept Christ.
Such attempts are not so much befitting to the Missionaries as
they should be.

"The purpose of submitting this memorandum is that whereas an
guilty person should not escape the consequences of his guilty
act, unless and until the background of all such impugned
incidents is very closely examined, true and total justice may
not perhaps be done. Failure to examine such background may,
will and perhaps shall lead to such a situation in which not
merely communal harmony but total and true peace will be
disturbed all over the country."

The above memorandum of the Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayet gives only
some of the incidents affecting the Parsi community but it makes
abundantly clear what this community's feelings are. In the
past two years particularly, repeated incidents have taken place
in Surat, Bardoli and Vansda where Parsi girls have been tricked
away by Muslim youths, taken to some other cities, converted to
Islam and then married off. Most such marriages have ended up
disastrously for the girls. But the community needs to remain
alert and foil such bids before they land the girls into shame
and misfortune.

The Christian missionaries, who are supposedly an educated lot
themselves, have definitely made a miscalculation by targetting
the Parsis, who are a miniscule community-more so in South
Gujarat-and they are likely to come a cropper by trying to
convert a Parsi, who is not going to be impressed by some finely-
printed copies of the holy literature (mostly in English, which
the villager does not understand), a video cassette (which the
villager could not view because he has no VCR) and some clothes.
But there is also no evidence of any missionary having abducted
any Parsi woman, taken her elsewhere, forced her to convert
married off to someone.

On the other hand, we have no quarrel with the Hindus because
they are not after conversions and are not seeking to increase
their numbers through inducement and deceit. in fact, Parsis are
indebted to the Hindus for giving us refuge in this country and
letting us grow and prosper after persecution by Muslim invaders
in Iran more than 1,300 years ago.

Courtesy: Parsidom, Newsletter on Parsi Matters, 15-9-98


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